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May 28, 2008, 6:13 PM CT

Stretching exercises may reduce risk of pre-eclampsia

Stretching exercises may reduce risk of pre-eclampsia
Stretching exercises may be more effective at reducing the risk of preeclampsia than walking is for pregnant women who have already experienced the condition and who do not follow a workout routine, as per scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.

Preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension, is a condition that affects up to 8 percent of pregnancies every year and is among the leading causes of maternal and fetal illness and death worldwide.

The finding is contrary to existing studies and literature that suggest that rigorous exercise is the most effective way to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, said SeonAe Yeo, Ph.D., an associate professor with a specialty in womens health at the UNC School of Nursing and the studys lead researcher.

Yeo will present the findings Thursday (May 29) at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind. The results would be reported in the spring issue of the journal High blood pressure in Pregnancy.

Typically preeclampsia is characterized by a marked increase in blood pressure during pregnancy and may be accompanied by swelling and kidney problems. It is diagnosed when blood pressure readings taken twice in six hours read 140/90 or higher.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


May 20, 2008, 9:58 PM CT

Do chemicals in the environment affect fertility?

Do chemicals in the environment affect fertility?
Our day-to-day exposure to chemicals is on the increase. From food packaging to the air we breathe, every day contact with potentially-toxic substances could be affecting our health - and our fertility.

Scientists at The University of Nottingham are set to take part in one of the first studies of the effect of environmental chemicals on female mammals. Part of the Reproductive Effects of Environmental Chemicals in Females Consortium (REEF), Dr Richard Lea of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and Dr Kevin Sinclair of the School of Biosciences will receive a £500,000 grant for their work researching how these chemicals impact on mammalian fertility. REEF will receive a total of £2.4m in funding from the EU.

Dr Lea and Dr Sinclair will study the impact of low levels of environmental chemicals on sheep foetuses in the womb. The specific chemicals to be studied are found in human sewage sludge which is frequently spread on fields where sheep graze previous to entering the human food chain.

The amount of chemicals absorbed is believed to be so minute that they would be difficult to discern through testing. However, through a process known as bioaccumulation, chemicals can become concentrated in individuals over many years, stored mostly in fat tissue. Though these chemicals may not be directly harmful to these individuals, if they are passed on - for example, through gestation in the womb or through the food chain - they might have consequences for human health.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


May 18, 2008, 9:22 PM CT

Mother's prenatal stress predisposes babies to asthma and allergy

Mother's prenatal stress predisposes babies to asthma and allergy
Women who are stressed during pregnancy may pass some of that frazzlement to their fetuses in the form of increased sensitivity to allergen exposure and possibly future asthma risk, as per scientists from Harvard Medical School who will present their findings at the American Thoracic Societys 2008 International Conference in Toronto on Sunday, May 18.

While predisposition to asthma may be, in part, set at birth, the factors that may determine this are not strictly genetic. Certain substances in the environment that cause allergies, such as dust mites, can increase a childs chance of developing asthma and the effects may begin before birth, said Rosalind J. Wright, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at Brigham & Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Mothers stress during pregnancy can also influence the babies developing immune system. While animal studies suggest that the combination of stress and allergen exposure during pregnancy may magnify the effects on the immune system, this is the first human study to examine this directly. The scientists analyzed levels of maternal stress and mothers exposure to dust mite allergen in their homes while pregnant with respect to cord blood IgE expressiona marker of the childs immune response at birth in 387 infants enrolled in the Asthma Coalition on Community, Environment, and Social Stress (ACCESS) project in Boston.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


May 12, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Women who breastfeed for more than a year

Women who breastfeed for more than a year
Women who breast feed for longer have a smaller chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis, suggests a study published online ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study also observed that taking oral contraceptives, which are suspected to protect against the disease because they contain hormones that are raised in pregnancy, did not have the same effect. Also, simply having children and not breast feeding also did not seem to be protective.

The scientists compared 136 women with rheumatoid arthritis with 544 women of a similar age without the disease. They observed that that those who had breast fed for longer were much less likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.

Women who had breastfed for 13 months or more were half as likely to get rheumatoid arthritis as those who had never breast fed. Those who had breast fed for one to 12 months were 25 per cent less likely to get the disease.

The proportion of women breast feeding for more than six months has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The authors concluded that it was difficult to say whether there was a correlation between higher rates of breast feeding and a corresponding fall in the number of women affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but that the results of the study provided yet another reason why women should continue breast feeding.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 8, 2008, 9:13 PM CT

How slow growth as a fetus can cause diabetes as an adult

How slow growth as a fetus can cause diabetes as an adult
Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), which results in a baby having a low weight at birth, has been associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. It has been suggested that this is because the expression of key genes is altered during fetal development and that this affects disease susceptibility during the later part of life. Evidence to support this hypothesis and indicating that the changes in gene expression might be permanent has now been provided by Rebecca Simmons and his colleagues, at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, using a rat model of IUGR.

Pervious studies using the rat model of IUGR have shown decreased fetal expression of the gene Pdx1, which is critical for the development and function of the cells that become defective in type 2 diabetes (pancreatic beta-cells), and adult onset of diabetes. In this study, expression of Pdx1 was found to be reduced in pancreatic beta-cells throughout life following IUGR. The molecular mechanisms (known as epigenetic mechanisms because they affect gene expression without altering the information in the gene) that reduced Pdx1 expression in pancreatic beta-cells were found to change during development. One mechanism was observed in the fetus, one following birth, and one after the onset of diabetes in adulthood. Of interest, the mechanisms reducing Pdx1 gene expression in the fetus and following birth could be reversed, whereas those reducing Pdx1 gene expression in the adult were irreversible. These data provide new insight into the mechanisms by which diabetes develops in adulthood following IUGR.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 8:28 PM CT

Breastfeeding may improve children's intelligence scores

Breastfeeding may improve children's intelligence scores
Long-term, exclusive breastfeeding appears to improve childrens cognitive development, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Prior studies have reported that children and adults who were breastfed as infants have higher scores on IQ tests and other measures of cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) development than those who were fed formula, as per background information in the article. However, the evidence has been based on findings based on observation, in which children whose mothers chose to breastfeed were compared with those whose mothers chose not to breastfeed. The results of these studies may be complicated by subtle differences in the way breastfeeding mothers interact with their infants, the authors note.

Michael S. Kramer, M.D., of McGill University and the Montreal Childrens Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, and his colleagues conducted a randomized trial of a breastfeeding promotion program involving patients at 31 maternity hospitals and affiliated clinics in Belarus. Between June 1996 and December 1997, clinics were randomly assigned either to adopt a program supporting and promoting breastfeeding or to continue their current practices and policies. A total of 7,108 infants and mothers who visited facilities promoting breastfeeding and 6,781 infants and mothers who visited control facilities received follow-up interviews and examinations between 2002 and 2005, when the children were an average of 6.5 years old.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 3, 2008, 7:33 PM CT

Treatment advances for fibroids

Treatment advances for fibroids
Women with fibroids and endometriosis facing the possibility of hysterectomy may now choose less invasive therapy options to preserve fertility, as per Yale professor Aydin Arici, M.D., who will direct a scientific session exploring these alternatives at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical Meeting May 3-7 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Arici will chair the two-day postgraduate ACOG course Current Topics in Reproductive Endocrinology for the Clinician. He joins colleagues in the Yale Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences as they lead other ACOG courses on menopause, managing post-term pregnancy, and managing patients with bleeding disorders during pregnancy.

In his course, Arici will present therapy options for endometriosis and share novel conservative approaches for treating fibroids, the most common non-malignant tumor seen in reproductive-age women and the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States.

Our goal is to educate general obstetricians on ways to tailor new therapy techniques to the needs of individual patients, said Arici. For women in their 30s and 40s, preserving reproductive potential while treating fibroids is often desired. In the past, ovarian function was suppressed by inducing sudden menopause to shrink fibroids. Novel medications that were unavailable a few years back are now able to do so without unpleasant side effects.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 30, 2008, 5:16 PM CT

Childbirth training change improves safety

Childbirth training change improves safety
Relatively inexpensive interventions were effective in helping health care providers in Latin America improve the way they treat mothers during labor and delivery, reducing bleeding and sometimes saving lives of women during childbirth, as per a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study released recently in the New England Journal (NEJM).

Using teaching techniques that employed behavioral change strategies aimed at modifying practices, scientists were able to reduce the number and severity of episiotomies, a surgical procedure in which a doctor or midwife makes an incision in the tissue between the mothers vagina and rectum during childbirth.

They were also able to increase the use of the hormone oxytocin which is given to mothers to make their uterus shrink and bleed less to manage the third stage of labor, when the placenta detaches and passes from the uterus and hemorrhaging may occur.

At the start of the study, public hospitals in Argentina and Uruguay had very high rates of routine episiotomy and low rates of actively managing the third stage of labor. In the randomized trial of 20 hospitals, 10 received the intervention and the rest received clinical practice guidelines via seminars.

The intervention included identifying and training small teams of respected medical opinion leaders at several hospitals. These teams then trained their peers, and provided their colleagues with ongoing reminders and feedback regarding progress.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 24, 2008, 5:06 AM CT

Pregnancy is possible after cancer treatment

Pregnancy is possible after cancer treatment
It has been reported for the first time in Gera number of that healthy ovarian tissue has been taken from a non-pregnant woman with cancer and then re-implanted after cancer treatment. The patient is now 32 years old and could become pregnant as a result. This case is described by Ralf Dittrich and colleagues from Erlangen University Hospital in the current issue of Deutsches rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105[15]: 274-8).

Anal carcinoma was diagnosed in this young patient in 2004 and chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy was recommended. As the ovaries lie near to the tumor, they are often damaged by treatment of this sort and the women become infertile. The Erlangen physicians succeeded in removing healthy ovarian tissue from the woman before therapy and to freeze it. The patient was then given the recommended cancer therapy. She tolerated this well and has not suffered any relapse. Conversely, her menstrual periods had stopped, in spite of hormone therapy, for two years. For this reason, the patient's conserved ovarian material was inserted endoscopically into her pelvis. She subsequently reported her first menstruation. After this operation, it may be possible for her to become pregnant, eventhough this has not happened yet.

The authors consider that the affected patients should be provided with more information, so that they are aware of this possibility of retaining fertility.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Omega-3 intake during last months of pregnancy

Omega-3 intake during last months of pregnancy
A study supervised by Universit Laval scientists Gina Muckle and ric Dewailly reveals that omega-3 intake during the last months of pregnancy boosts an infants sensory, cognitive, and motor development. The details of this finding are published in a recent edition of the Journal of Pediatrics.

To come to this conclusion, scientists first measured docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentrationa type of omega-3 fatty acid involved in the development of neurons and retinasin the umbilical cord blood of 109 infants. DHA concentration in the umbilical cord is a good indicator of intra-uterine exposure to omega-3s during the last trimester of pregnancy, a crucial period for the development of retinal photoreceptors and neurons, explains Dr. Dewailly.

Tests conducted on these infants at 6 and 11 months revealed that their visual acuity as well as their cognitive and motor development were closely associated with DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood at the time of their birth. However, there was very little relation between test results and DHA concentration in a mothers milk among infants who were breast-fed. These results highlight the crucial importance of prenatal exposure to omega-3s in a childs development, points out Dr. Muckle.

Scientists found that DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood was in direct relation with the concentration found in a mothers blood, a reminder of the importance of a mothers diet in providing omega-3 fatty acids for the fetus. They also noted that DHA concentration was higher in the fetuss blood than in the mothers. While developing its nervous system, a fetus needs great quantities of DHA. It can even transform other types of omega-3s into DHA in order to develop its brain, explains Dr. Dewailly.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The addition of testosterone to hormone therapy in women after menopause enhances their sexual function. However, it may also reduce HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in women, according to a systematic review of current evidence."If the reduction in HDL had been associated with an increase in triglycerides [fatty acids] or LDL cholesterol it would be of great concern," said Dr. Susan Davis, professor of medicine at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and study co-author "However, as an isolated finding the significance is difficult to interpret." She added, "Testosterone has not been found to alter other coronary heart disease risk factors.".

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